Mystery, intrigue and murder can be found at Forest Park Museum just south of Perry.
Sounds like a dark novel, but museum curator Pete Malmberg assures visitors that the Iowa Cold Case Files on display are all based on real Iowa murder mysteries. In fact, the current cases highlighted are specific to Dallas County.
“I’m always looking for history and artifacts that are relevant to our area and to Iowa,” Malmberg said. “There is always a lot of interest in mysteries and unsolved crimes so I figured I would do an exhibit on cold cases and start with ones from the area.”
While local cases are highlighted now, sometime this spring, Malmberg plans to highlight some of Iowa’s more notorious unsolved murders and disappearances, particularly that of Jodi Huisentruit.
Huisentruit was abducted at approximately 4:30 a.m. on June 27, 1995 from the parking lot of her apartment on North Kentucky Avenue in Mason City. Her purse and its contents were found scattered around her car. She has never been found and it is assumed she is deceased.
Malmberg is collaborating on the exhibits with Jody Ewing, founder and president of Iowa Cold Cases. He is making plans to have Ewing give a program on cold cases at Forest Park Museum sometime this summer. The time and date have not yet to be determined.
Ewing said that having a cold case display at the museum may very will help solve a case. It also reminds the public that the cases are still opens, and the families that that the person isn’t completely forgotten.
The current museum exhibit highlights such cases as that of the Minburn Night Marshal Virgil Untied.
Untied was murdered on a “warm July night in 1931.” He was called by the switchboard operator about a robbery in progress at a store in downtown Minburn. He and two other men armed themselves and confronted three robbers at another grocery store. The robbers ambushed them.
At least 10 shots were fired in the confrontation and Untied was hit five times with shotgun slugs. The case was never solved.
Another case is that of Emma Lewis, 80, who was killed in her home in Waukee in 1976. She was beaten and her purse stolen. Neither her purse, nor her killer was found. The only motive law enforcement could figure out was the crime was committed for “what little money was in her purse.”
The death of Myrtle Cumpston in 1965 is highlighted in the display as well. Cumpston, 60, was the owner of a tropical fish store near Redfield.
She was shot between 8 a.m. when her husband dropped her off at the store, and 10 a.m. when she was found. Fifty dollars was missing from the cash register.
“You never know,” Malmberg said, “there are potentially still people out there who know what happened in these cases.”